The Vancouver Scrum

On the move!

Agh! You’re still here? My new site and weblog, is now up and running; new posts are building up over there, never to be mirrored here. Go! What are you waiting for? All the stuff worth keeping has been migrated over to the new server, and I don’t anticipate making any more posts here.

Bloggers and webmasters: Update your links! Simply replace with in your blogrolls or bookmarks to point to the new site. Old posts will remain on this server for as long as the people at Blogger/Google allow them to remain; unfortunately, I’m not going to bother to come up with any way of converting permalinks on this blog to their corresponding posts on the new site. Yes, I plead laziness. I also realize the irony of switching away from Blogger just it starts to add features that the demanding blog nerds insist upon.

Thanks for reading and linking, and see you over at!

—Ian King, December 13, 2004

Monday, August 09, 2004


That ain't news, bub

The Vancouver Sun never ceases to amaze. Once again, the city’s purported paper of record decides to make its own news and give it some serious play rather than actually go and and find it. Apparently, a website poll on people’s reaction to Svend Robinson’s conviction and sentencing for theft over $5,000 is worthy of page three. (Of course, it’s hidden behind the subscriber firewall.)

The Sun’s informal survey asked: “What would you have sentenced him to?”

While 607 responses would have put him in jail, 531 proposed lesser punishments.

Of those who would have put him behind bars, 351 called for six months and 256 demanded the maximum penalty of 10 years.

Of those keeping him out of jail, 270 agreed with the judge’s conditional discharge, 61 called for an absolute discharge, and 200 would have given a suspended sentence.

A number of respondents were angry about the sentence.

Here’s a better question: is the opinion of web poll respondents, especially in this case, worth anything more than a pitcher of warm piss? Most of the participants don’t know all the facts of the case, or what the range of sentences for the crime are, or how judges take into account aggravating and mitigating factors. Instead, you’re going to get a bunch of knee-jerkers who are almost always going to think that someone convicted of a crime “got off lightly,” especially if it’s a prominent politician.

That goes double for Svend. Let’s be honest: someone’s view of Robinson’s fate is going to be shaped by their politics. The guy’s a polarizing figure, and when he stole the ring, returned it, and stepped away from politics (never say retired with Svend), it was old foes like the Byfield family and the Province’s editorialists who were the first to call for the guy’s head.

In other words, the poll, and the Sun story thereon, is meaningless. Yes, I realise that I sound like a snob for preferring the opinions of legalists over the common man. So be it. From the same story, the opinion of an actual lawyer.

In a telephone interview, Vancouver criminal lawyer Bob Kincaid said a conditional sentence is fairly common for first-time shoplifters, but less so for crimes involving theft over $5,000.

“It’s not typical, but it’s not unusual to see that someone would get a conditional discharge,” he said.

“Any reasonable person not grinding some political axe, but just looking at this as a dispassionate observer, would look at this person and say if anyone deserves a discharge, it’s him.”

Which outweighs the ravings of all the web-poll clickers, right-wing ranters, and yack-radio callers put together.


i actually witnessed a judge and a politican get into a heated argument over the sentence and subsequent sun furor. it was ... cute. politician was all worked up over how bad the decisions made the judges look to the public, while the judge maintained giving a toss about public opinion/hysteria isnt exactly in the job description.

at any rate, did anyone honestly expect hed get a stiff sentence...
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